Message from CSSP Director Evelyn Brown
Delaware comprehensive school safety plans (CSSP) are consistent all hazards, best practices approaches to emergency response plans to provide guidance to our "true first responders" in a school emergency, our school officials and staff. We serve approximately 228 public schools, 132,000 students, and 15,000 educational staff. This is critical because during an emergency on school grounds, the "true" first responders are not police or paramedics, but teachers, administrators, and other school staff. Because school faculty and personnel are on-site, DSHS has provided them with the right tools and training--training traditional first responders already had. The CSSP is designed to support many functions before, during, and after an emergency.
Omnibus School Safety Act
Our Comprehensive School Safety Program stems from the Omnibus School Safety Act enacted in September 2012 by Governor Jack Markell. The OSSA requires DSHS to be the lead agency (Capitol Police and all public schools to:
- Develop all-hazard comprehensive school safety plans
- Create a school safety team
- Collaborate with DSHS and relevant first responders
- Conduct critical incident drills and table top exercises
- Annually review plan and submit revisions for certification to DSHS
Comprehensive School Safety Program Overview
Our comprehensive school safety plans are predetermined vulnerability assessments, risk management techniques that mitigate exposure during unusual incidents. They are not intelligence led policing, deployment strategies, school resource officer strategies, school discipline related initiatives or juvenile arrest policies.
The Delaware Comprehensive School Safety Model includes National Management System information and education as well as best practices responses to a number of potential emergency events. The model addresses things such as; accident at school, aircraft crash, air pollution alert, allergic reaction animal disturbance, biological agent, bomb threat, bus accident, chemical accident, civil disturbance, criminal act, death of a student/staff, earthquake explosion, fire, hostage situation, intruder, irrational behavior/medical emergency, missing/kidnapped student, national terrorism advisory system, pandemic influenza, public demonstration, sexual assault, storm/severe weather, student riot, suicide attempt, suspicious package, threats/assaults, and weapons.
To expedite the CSSP process DSHS first completed the following:
- Identified a liaison person at each of the public and charter schools to facilitate an expeditious communication flow.
- Collaborated and facilitated the formation of a school safety team at each school according to the guidelines established by the Delaware CSSP.
- Coordinated initial meetings of the school safety team to introduce team members and communicate the mission and establish strategic goals for successful implementation of CSSP.
- Worked with the school leaders and the school safety teams to conduct a staff skills assessment to determine special skills of staff members that will be beneficial during a school emergency.
- Encouraged school leaders and the school safety teams complete an online FEMA course. This training is designed to give education professionals a basic understanding of emergency management principles. This informative training will assist with understanding "why" CSSP's are beneficial to the school community and "how" to begin the planning process.
DSHS Contracts with SafePlans for web-based solution and Conducts Tabletop Exercises
DSHS contracted with SafePlans for web based solution, the Emergency Response Information Portal (ERIP), to house the Delaware Comprehensive School Safety Model. The web based platform serves as the repository for all CSSPs statewide. This portal allows school officials and first responders secured access to the information as needed. DSHS provided ERIP training to all public and charter schools and after having time to complete their safety plans, facilitated district-wide tabletop exercises to test the newly developed plans.
DSHS Offers Training to Schools and First Responders
DSHS will continue outreach with and offer training to our schools, first responders: dispatch centers, fire, police, and medical community. We will build capacity of the project by enhancing professional development and strive to embed CSSP into the organizational culture. Comprehensive School Safety will continue to evolve over time and has significant potential to grow to other areas. While in their infancy, discussions have started to expand the project by providing safety planning and ERIP to all state facilities.
School Districts Moving Towards CSSP Compliance Goal
While most of our schools already had plans emergency plan in plans, this CSSP has implemented a process of formally codifying the new plan and establishing statewide consistency for all our schools and first responders. An initiative of this magnitude has required strong relationships between all stakeholders. Establishing a rapport with all of our schools will enhance the speed in which implementation will occur. With the continued support of our partners in state government we are on schedule to accomplish our task.